Chennai: DMK President M K Stalin Wednesday lashed out at the Centre over the rumblings in the CBI, saying they have come at a time when the agency was likely to take up cases like the Rafale deal and the one against Tamilnadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami.
Sending CBI Director Alok Verma on leave amidst his spat with the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana was not only “autocratic” but it also showed the BJP government’s “administrative anarchy,” Stalin charged in a statement.
Both Verma and Asthana have been divested of their powers and sent on leave, as a fallout of a first-of-its kind spat between the top bosses of India’s premier investigating agency. Joint Director M Nageswar Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre IPS officer, has been appointed to look after the “duties and functions” of the director with “immediate effect” as an “interim measure.”
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had also alleged that Verma was forcibly sent on leave as he was collecting documents relating to the Rafale fighter jet ‘scam’. Stalin said the action against Verma comes at a time when he had reportedly initiated a probe into the Rafale deal, where the Opposition, led by the Congress, has alleged a scam in the purchase of the French made fighter aircraft.
“Reports suggest he had ordered a preliminary enquiry into the Rafale deal. The Prime Minister, who was angered by this, has used the opportunity to appoint IG level official Rao as director and this is misuse of authority,” Stalin said. Stalin, the leader of the Opposition in the Tamilnadu assembly, also referred to the Madras High Court directing a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities against Palaniswami in awarding of road contracts by him.
He said there was a public perception that the Centre’s actions were seen more to ‘conceal’ the Rafale issue rather than protecting Asthana. Verma was always opposed to the “forceful imposition of Asthana into the CBI by Prime Minister Modi,” he said, and condemned the action against Verma.
The actions of the Prime Minister created an impression of an “undeclared emergency,” he added. Stalin said Rao had earlier courted controversy when he had met then Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in his office during his stint here.
The CBI was presently handling sensitive cases and therefore required a director with “impeccable integrity,” he said. “But by appointing a junior officer, the BJP government has made the CBI its caged parrot,” he said.
Stalin alleged that the central agency may be used against the Opposition during elections and help the government on the Rafale issue. “It is unacceptable to see a war being declared against CBI’s independence, credibility and autonomy,” he said and called for revoking of the action against Verma.